SPOT.ph’s Best Food of 2013

The 100 best dishes that we ate in Manila this year.

 

(SPOT.ph) We ate well this year, thanks, in large part, to the numerous restaurants that have made it their mission to make Manila gastronimically satisfied. Admittedly, not all the dishes we tried were great, but some were sublime. We’ve narrowed down the must-tries to a "shortlist" of 100. These unranked top 100 dishes were the eats that, for us, defined the year in good restaurants and great food. Burp!

READ: Best of Manila: 50 Great Restaurants of 2013

 

The dishes have been segregated into the following categories:

Page 1

Comfort Classics
Most Addictive
Twists

Page 2

Facelifts (classic dishes reinvented)
Cheap Thrills
Lightweights
Seafood Specials
Filipino Favorites

Page 3

Foreign Firsts
Comebacks
Most Hyped
Best Combos

Page 4

Social Awards
Heavyweights
Super Starters
Carb-riffic
Afternoon Delights

Page 5

Over-the-Top
Inner Beauty Awards
Trendiest
Dessert Darlings

Note: Only dishes launched in 2013 were considered for the list.

 

COMFORT CLASSICS
Straight-up, no-frills favorites


 

Buttermilk Fried Chicken (P519) at Kettle

Soaking overnight in buttermilk bath locks in the secret spices to the chicken fillets and makes them exceptionally tender. It's a country dish that becomes an explosive rock star in your mouth.

5/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 654-7077

 

 

Tuyo Rice Bowl (P185) at The Clubhouse

This dish is always picture-perfect every time. The bowl comes with a sunny-side-up egg (cooked to a soft yolk) and two slivers of dried fish concealing the garlicky-salty rice underneath. The Clubhouse doesn't scrimp on the goodies, so you get the nice bite of fish with every spoonful.

UG/F Robinsons Magnolia Town Center, Hemady Street corner Aurora Boulevard, Quezon City; Tel. No. 442-5571

 

 

Chunky Tomato Soup (P220) at Misto

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It may not look like much, but Ayala Land's luxe boutique hotel arguably has the best tomato soup in the city. Flaunting perfect balance, it's creamy and chunky, tangy and sweet, flavorful yet mild enough to simply tease the palate for the meal ahead.

Seda Hotel, 30th Street corner 11th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 945-8888 ext. 8832

 


Eggs Benedict from Balboa

This Italian-American eatery plays with the traditional architecture of Eggs Benedict by using prosciutto instead of Canadian bacon and adding a slice of cheese under the flawlessly poached eggs. The result is a more explosive assault on your taste buds.

4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City

 


Beouf Bourgignon (P650) at Brasserie Girolle

Don't let the numerous O's and U's in the spelling fool you. This is just beef stew, but cooked using topnotch techniques. Chef Ian Padilla makes the stock for hours, creating a depth of flavor you won't find in your everyday dinner. The fork-tender beef is braised in red wine and served with bacon, carrots, shallots, and mushrooms over gooey mashed potatoes.

G/F Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 856-6639

 

Photo from Gerry San Miguel of Dude For Food

 

Delice Chocolat (P250) by The Cake Club

One of the latest additions to The Cake Club's roster, this multi-layered dark chocolate cake is toothsome and satisfying. As if that wasn't sinful enough, thick chocolate icing embraces the entire ensemble-like a nice hug on a sad day, it will lift your spirits up.

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UG/F, Bonifacio High Street Central, East Superblock, 7th Avenue corner 29th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 621-3178

 

 

MOST ADDICTIVE
Dishes and items that will have you infinitely digging

 

 

Bruschettas (P225) from Olive Tree Kitchen and Bar

A single bite is all you need to know if a dish is worth it. But with Olive Tree's bruschettas, you're definitely going to want more: seared chicken liver with a reduced balsamic drizzle and hickory-smoked pumpkin puree with fatty maple bacon.

B4, Bonifacio High Street, 9th Avenue, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 823-0366

 

 

Duck You (P185) from Green Pastures

Duck in the Philippines is divided into two schools: Peking and Roast. Here's one that challenges the convention: potato fries plunged in hot duck fat then tossed with crispy duck skin chicharon and duck confit.

4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 654-3219

 

 

Xiao Long Bao (P198) from Modern Shanghai

Modern Shanghai’s soup dumplings are served hot but not scalding, allowing the customer to enjoy sipping the soup from the fluffy flour wrapper. The pork is so tender that it’s almost velvety. It doesn’t seem like much, but it’s hard to get that good a texture on ground meat.

2/F Veranda Bayside, Entertainment Mall, SM Mall of Asia, Pasay City; Tel. No. 551-1110

 

 

Burrata (P245) from Gino's Brick Oven Pizzas

Good food doesn't have to be complicated. Fresh burrata cheese (mozzarella with more mozzarella and cream inside) served with bread and olive oil is enough to make a statement. Pair it with Salami Milano, prosciutto, or speck.

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2/F 341 Katipunan Avenue, Loyola Heights, Quezon City; Tel. No. 381-3963

 

 

Ay Caramba! La Papa (P160) at Brasas

Simple as this dish may seem, it's also a showcase of Chef Nathaly Montoya's culinary abilities: the potatoes are sheet-thin, curling up slightly to catch the topping of ground beef, bell peppers, and cheese sauce. Each bite is a salty, savory, sweet punch. It takes a while for the chips to absorb the moistness of the sauce, but even then, it's irresistible.

Branches in SM North EDSA, The Podium, SM Aura

 


Pork and Potato Strips (P339) from Kettle

A welcome deviation from traditional fries, potatoes are cut thin, crisped up with fresh basil and tarragon, tossed with pork belly, and served with red pepper aioli. It's just like chips-once you pop, you can't stop.

5/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 654-7077

 

 

Hokkaido Cake (P330/six) from Tea Tap

Supplied by MilkBox, Tea Tap’s Hokkaido Cakes is a version of the popular Tres Leches in a paper cup. The sponge cake is incredibly fluffy, the little grains of cake tickling the taste buds. Custard makes it extra moist and gives it just a touch of sweetness. The powdered milk on top is just that little extra that makes it an absolute must-try.

Little Baguio, San Juan


TWISTS
Classics with that little extra that set them apart

 

 

Savory Eton Mess (P275) from Grace Park

It looks like the traditional English dessert, but don't bite into it expecting something sweet. Instead of strawberries, specks of bacon are folded in cream, truffle oil and meringue. It's a luscious mix of sweet and salty.

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G/F One Rockwell Building, Rockwell Drive, Makati City; Tel. No. 0917-513-8945

 

Photo by Gerry San Miguel of Dude For Food


Lamb Hash (P320) from URBN Bar and Kitchen

It's classified as bar chow, but this dish doesn't need alcohol to be enjoyed. Lamb shares the bowl with sautéed potatoes and the sight of it makes you want to sit privately in a corner, doing nothing but relishing every spoonful. This is definitely a dish you'd want to keep for yourself.

3/F Fort Pointe II Building, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0917-564-9333

 

 

Spring Roll of Prosciutto, Avocado, and Onsen Egg (P175) at Tokyo Tonteki

The brine of prosciutto cuts through the creaminess of cold avocado. An onsen egg is tucked in the middle which, when sliced, releases a delicious goo of egg yolk that coats the entire medley in a rich yellow sauce.

UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

 

 

Kuhol Chowder (P150) from Bite Contemporary Cuisine *

Served in a giant pandesal bowl, this creamy soup brings comfort like no other. The use of kuhol in lieu of clams gives it points both for ingenuity and supporting our local suppliers.

7427-B Glory Building, Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City; Tel. No. 478-2659

 

 

Braised Beef with Chocomole Sauce at The Terrace

We're on a petition for Terrace to put this on the menu permanently. This braised beef dish was made specifically for Resorts World Manila's Thrillathon Chocolate Festival where all RW restaurants incorporated chocolate into their menu. The beef easily pulls apart and that chocolate-infused sauce gives it a depth of flavor that's unconventional in Filipino cuisine. It's not sweet, but you can still taste that subtle bitterness that only chocolate can make pleasant.

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Resorts World Manila, Pasay City

 

 

Steak and Frites (P1,250) from Terraz Meetings and Bistro

This steak is served with a trio of sauces-Dijon mustard, béarnaise, gravy-giving you a variety of tastes in one dish. Tired of the usual wedge shape, Chef Arnold Gozon creates a pyramid of potato noodles. His "frites" are crispy, addictive, and messy-something unexpected in a restaurant full of power-suited men.

3/F Zuellig Building, Paseo de Roxas, Makati City; Tel. No. 625-4831, 625-4832

 

 

Strawberry Buffalo Wings (P235) from Melting Pot

The versatility of strawberries is beautifully demonstrated in this comfort classic. The sweetness complements that unapologetic spice, while the tartness-a flavor no stranger to buffalo wings-gives extra dimension to the heat.

103 J. Abad Santos Street, Little Baguio, San Juan; Tel. No. 624-1009, 0917-550-1191

 

FACE-LIFTS

Classic dishes reinvented into new forms.

 

 

The Breakfast Club (P40/piece) from Mrs. Grahams Bakery *

The Breakfast Club is a selection of French macarons in flavors inspired by breakfast favorites. Enjoy Pancakes with Maple Buttercream, White Coffee, and Cornflakes in Milk in a delightful cookie format.

Contact 0917-805-5479 or e-mail mrsgrahamsbakery@gmail.com.

 

 

F.U. Ramen (P425) at Wrong Ramen

Trust Wrong Ramen to find something wrong with ramen and breakfast. This inspired restaurant dared to come up with a hybrid of both-putting Black Pepper Spam, bacon, cheese, and a fried egg in a garlic broth. It's not how most people would conventionally start their day, but to them, Wrong Ramen raises a finger.

Forbes Town Center, Forbestown Road, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 823-8249

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Merry Moo's Polvoron Ice Cream (P300/pint) from Merry Moo *

Everybody's favorite crumbly shortbread churned into an ice cream. Merry Moo produces the same effects of polvoron in their ice cream: delicious addiction. The frozen version is milky, but with polvoron grains that add some welcome texture.

Contact Merry Moo at 0917-528-9590 or e-mail merrymoo@ymail.com.

 

Movie Night (P85 to P200) at Bono Artisanal Gelato

Bono has all the basic flavors down pat, but it's their more creative takes that will really have you impressed with how they layer their elements. The Movie Night is an impressive mix of caramel and potato chips-a sort of new approach to salted caramel-where the caramel melts away for the salty, starchy flavor of potato.

Branches in Podium, SM Makati, and SM Aura Premier

 

 

Ensaymada Cupcake (P75) from The Noodle Bakes *

The cupcakes at The Noodle Bakes will draw you in to their table. It's just a spell to get you to try their innovative flavors like the strawberry-matcha and the sweet-salty ensaymada cupcake-dulce de leche-filled cupcakes with queso de bola buttercream and queso de bola crumbed topping.

Contact 0920-920-7268. Pick-up point is at Greenmeadows, Quezon City.

 

CHEAP THRILLS
Value-for-money eats

 

 

El Chupacabra’s Soft Tacos (P80 to P120)

The tacos come in five flavors: carnitas, chorizo, barbacoa, lengua, and steak. Each is a revelation in freshness and beautiful seasoning. The fresh meats-whichever flavor you prefer-take center stage, with the veggies and condiments working together to highlight them even further.

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5782 Felipe Street corner Polaris Street, Makati City; Tel. No. 895-1919

 

 

Sisig Shawarma (P140) from Shawarma Guys

The Shawarma Guys have put together two favorites to create something close to legendary. For such promoters of a laidback style, they're careful to use sisig that's more meat than fat, and frying it just enough to give a loud crunch with every bite. Warm pita hugs that salty pork and the dollop of sour cream just brings us straight to heaven.

G/F Fort Pointe Building, Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 966-8838

 

 

Roasted Kalabasa (P145) from Sarsa Kitchen and Bar *

Sweet mashed squash plays with fried tofu and salty dilis. It might convert you into becoming a veggie lover. For less that P150, this is enough ulam for three to four. Sarsa embodies affordability that Filipinos love.

Unit 1-7, Forum South Global, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. no.: 0927-706-0773

 

 

Ribs (P160 to P790) from Big Daddy Jay’s All American BBQ

Big Daddy Jay's closes shop on Monday to smoke their ribs: a glorious six hours where smoke and savor seep through the meat, making it tender, juicy, and fall-off-the-bone. It's a testament to how great things take time.

61B 17th Avenue, Cubao, Quezon City; Tel. No. 0917-300-8435

 

 

LIGHTWEIGHTS
Fast and light meals that are big on flavor

 

 

Bawai's Salad (P305) from Bawai's Vietnamese Kitchen

Replacing bitter greens with fresh coconut sprouts and shredded carrot, then tossed in a vinaigrette, this salad fuses sweet, salty and spicy flavors.

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79 Katipunan Avenue, Bellitudo, White Plains, Quezon City; Tel. No. 442-8874, 0917-885-1445

 

Photo by Richard Co of Tales From The Tummy

 

Andre's Poke (P325) at Mesclun Bistro

This Hawaiian-inspired ceviche is ahi tuna tossed in a creamy sesame and sriracha dressing and served with crostini. It's a cold appetizer that leaves a very good first impression.

Branches at Linden Suites, San Miguel Avenue, Pasig City and G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 954-2100

 

 

Boquerones (P4,900/part of a degustation) from Vask Gallery

Chef Luis Gonzalez's culinary instinct works in this calamansi and chili-marinated anchovy surrounded by breadcrumbs, olive marmalade, and frozen beetroot. The marriage of ingredients is like a symphony of the earth and sea inside your mouth.

5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0920-974-4742; 0917-806-5292; 217-6563

 

 

Chevre Chaud (P420) at Brasserie Girolle

A slice of warm goat cheese and a little skirt of mixed greens create a mild, fresh, and crunchy profile. But that’s not all: little specks of beet root and balsamic vinaigrette add a tart and sweet edge for that comprehensive display of colors, flavors, and textures.

G/F Fort Strip, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 856-6639

 

SEAFOOD SPECIALS
The bounty of the sea...straight to your plate

 

 

Moules Baltazar in White Wine and Cream (P680) from Maria Luisa's Garden Room

It's the type of dish you'd want to finish until the very last drop. Plump mussels swim in a rich and robust broth that will motivating you to keep digging.

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Recoletos Street corner Ayala Avenue, Barangay Urdaneta, Makati City; Tel. No. 552-7051, 552-7045

 

 

Seared Scallops (P750) from Stockton Place

The golden sear on the scallops will make your mouth water; but that's just the visual delight of this dish. It's served atop caramelized tomato tart, micro greens, and a dollop of lime crème fraiche.

227 Salcedo Street, Makati City; Tel. No. 844-9530, 0917-856-1419

 

 

Grilled Octopus (P230) from Black Olive Cerveseria

Black Olive nails the difficulty of cooking octopus, giving it unresisting tenderness that lets it earthy flavors shine through. Green romesco sauce and black olive salsa work together to amplify its subtle goodness.

Capitol Commons, Meralco Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; Tel. No. 0926-673-0726

 

 

Pan-seared Salmon with Risotto Verde (P605) from Black Olive Cerveseria

You'll be thinking of this dish and just how rewarding it is long after you've devoured it-crisp-skinned salmon topped with fresh greens and cheese shreds lay carefully on a bed of creamy green risotto. All healthy dishes can only aspire to be this good.

Capitol Commons, Meralco Avenue corner Shaw Boulevard, Ortigas Center, Pasig City; Tel. No. 0926-673-0726

 

FILIPINO FAVORITES

 

 

Yin and Yang Champorado (P275) at Early Bird Breakfast Club

This stunner is No. 1 on SPOT.ph's list for good reason: the mildly contrasting flavors from the bitter dark and sweet white chocolate-a yin and yang-come together harmoniously.  The side of dilis on the side gives it that salty kick every good champorado is known for. We also give bonus points to Early Bird for the beautiful presentation.

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G/F Fort Pointe 2, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 470-8847

 

 

Batchoy (P170) at Sarsa Kitchen + Bar

Sometimes, the best dishes don't have to be too complicated. Chef JP Anglo offers some Negrense comfort notably in his batchoy. The salty stock is lifted up by sweetish undertones from onions and brown sugar; the bits of chicharon are slightly disconcerting, but he uses large strips of pork belly, just enough to last until the last spoonful. Upgrade it to a Special (P240) if you want the richness of egg in your soup.

Unit 1-7, Forum South Global, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. no.: 0927-706-0773

 

 

Zamboanga Iban Talum (P210) at Adarna Food and Culture

The Iban Talum is made up of chicken chunks that have been cooked in a pot of coconut cream with white ginger, turmeric, and galangal, then topped with grilled eggplant. Sauce pa lang, ulam na.

119 Kalayaan Avenue, Quezon City; Tel. No. 926-8712, 0917-961-8113

 

Photo by Richard Co of Tales From The Tummy

 

Hiplog (P2,500/good for 15 to 20 people) from Pepita's Kitchen

This is the dish that you will remember from the indulgent degustacion at Pepita's Kitchen. The mild brine of tender prawns is made rich by a salted egg-based sauce.

For orders or reservations, contact 425-4605 or 0917-866-0662.

 

 

Torta (P250) from 100 Revolving Restaurant

Chef Jessie Sincioco's signature dessert is only available at this revolving restaurant. Among the flavors of this buttery mini-cake, it's the macapuno that stands out.

33/F MDC 100 Building, C5 corner Eastwood Drive, Quezon City; Tel. No. 962-1016

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FOREIGN FIRSTS

 

Photo from Shoot First, Eat Later

 

Fugazetta (P470) from Gaucho

The pizza crust is made with chickpea flour and is so thin that it cracks almost like a potato chip. The chorizo and anchovies fugazetta doesn't seem like much when it arrives to your table, but it'll blow your mind upon first bite.

3/F Robinsons Magnolia, Doña Hemady corner Aurora Boulevard, New Manila, Quezon City; Tel. No. 654 3148

 

 

Beef, Vegetable and Cheese Pierogi (P450/dozen) from Babci Kuchnia *

Chinese potstickers have nothing on these traditional Polish dumplings. They're golden and crisp on the outside, and beefy and savory inside. This Beef, Vegetable, and Cheese flavor, with its comprehensive flavor, is an easy favorite.

For orders, contact 897-9330, 0917-627-5147 or e-mail babcikuchnia@gmail.com.

 

Photo from Ninak’s Facebook page

 

Beef Soipicao (P285) at Ninak

Ninak's bestselling Beef Soipicao (nope, it's not a typo) is an appetizing dish of beef strips sautéed with onions, mushrooms, chives, and garlic. Juices from the pan and the meat itself run to the dish like a sauce. The combination of elements gives it a lovely contrast, with sweet, earthy, fresh, and, of course, garlicky tones.

Unit 101 Seven East Capitol Building, East Capitol Drive corner Sta. Rosa Street, Kapitolyo, Pasig City; Tel. No. 655-6902

 

 

Ricotta Gnudis (P325) at Rambla

There's no meat here: just fluffy pillows that pop in your mouth to release light ricotta cheese. Paired with a seasonal mushroom sauce and hazelnuts, the pasta/dumpling guarantees utmost comfort.

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G/F Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City; Tel. No. 0926-690-9774, 823-6468.

 

 

Cafe de Seoul’s Sweet Kies

What makes this dish stand out is the presentation. The deep-fried knotted dough looks like a balled up pilipit coated in flavored chocolate. It’s served inside a plastic bag and with a mallet. The point is to smash the Kies as hard as you can to break it into bite-sized pieces. It’s a delicious way to release aggression.

2/F One Archer’s Place, Taft Avenue, Malate, Manila; Tel. No.  46-8038, 0917-870-2004

 

 

COMEBACKS
New menu inclusions that keep customers coming back

 

 

Chocolate (P150) and Cinnamon (P120) Kouign Amann from Brasserie Cicou

It's the dessert that had people talking-and eating. This Breton cake traditionally has layers of butter and sugar in between puff pastry. Cicou has made this French dessert famous in the city and now they've released cinnamon and chocolate varieties, giving us more reasons to come back for more.

57 Annapolis Street, San Juan; Tel. No. 0917-885-8841

 

 

Apple Tart (P65) from The Appraisery

A thin, unyielding crust cups slightly sweet apple-infused custard, a layer of scalloped apples, then finished with a sprinkle of cinnamon powder. The layer of apples is purposely undercooked to give it a crunch and freshness.

General Romulo Avenue, Cubao Expo, Araneta Center, Quezon City; Tel. No. 921-2682

 

 

Bibingka Galapong (P145) from Pino Restaurant and Bar

Chef Ed Bugia’s Bibingka Galapong is rich, swiped with ricotta cheese, and perfected by a sprinkle of coconut and sugar. Each order comes with a shot of bittersweet homemade tsokolate that elevates the eggy flavors to levels you’d never think this local treat could reach.

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Branches at Jupiter Street, Makati City and Malingap Street, Quezon City

 

 

BBQ Bacon Cheeseburger (P450) from Wildflour Bakery and Cafe

The most recent addition to Wildflour’s menu may just be their best burger yet. Taking inspiration from Carl’s Jr., Chef Allen Buhay composed a hanger of US Prime ground beef patty, sharp cheddar cheese, crispy onion strings, Wildflour’s own burger bun and signature barbecue sauce.

Branches at G/F Net Lima Building, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street,Bonifacio Global City and The Podium, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 856-7600

 

Photo by Gerry San Miguel of Dude For Food

 

Bacon Steakie with Kimchi-Mango Puree (P485) from Nomama

Amuse your taste buds with the contrasting flavors of sweet and salty in this a thick slab of maple-glazed smoky bacon served with grilled onigiri and a sweet-spicy mango kimchi puree.

G/F FSS Bldg II, 18 Scout Tuason corner Scout Castor Street, Quezon City; Tel. No. 921-4193

 

 

Luke's Favorite (P320) from Wildflour Bakery and Cafe

It's simple yet thoughtful-a bacon slab glazed with maple syrup and served with a grilled half peach. It’s gift-worthy, too.

Branches at G/F Net Lima Building, 4th Avenue corner 26th Street,Bonifacio Global City and The Podium, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 856-7600

 

 

Mango Caramella (P165) from Chez Karine

Just looking at it is enough for you to realize how much love has been put into this entremet. The visible layers of mango mousse, mango jelly, caramel mousse, chocolate sponge cake, and cashew crust will send tingles of delight all the way down your spine. And you haven't even taken a bite yet.

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Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 804-1889, 0917-323-2845

 

 

Pistachio Pretzel Cheesecake (P90) from Cupcake Lab

Though it's smaller than its cupcake siblings in the chiller, this beauty can catch anybody's attention. The pale green pistachio cheesecake sits on a salted pretzel crust then crowned with another pretzel. It's a combination that works, and Cupcake Lab is one of the first to jump on the impending pretzel craze.

Branches at Podium and Promenade

 

 

MOST HYPED

 

 

Shio Ramen (P280 to P380) at Hokkaido Ramen Santouka

The hours of simmering the broth shows in the beautiful assembly of flavors one can taste with every sip. The shio is salt-based, which really pushes Ramen Santouka's charsiu to the forefront. The pork is perfectly cooked through-you won't see white perimeters of fat-and so soft that it almost dissolves inside the mouth.

The New Glorietta, Makati City; Tel. No. 728-1381

 

 

Black King (P420) at Ramen Nagi

It's easy to pick Ramen Nagi's bestselling Butao-plain tonkotsu-but it's this black concoction that has people infinitely curious. The squid ink broth has so much depth that the flavors are subtle but pronounced. The noodles are springy and al dente, and the pork? Perfectly cooked. Best of all, you won't get black stains on your mouth. That's the magic of this much-awaited ramen restaurant.

SM Aura Premier, Bonifacio Global City

 

 

The Original Tenderloin Set (P375 to P425) at Saboten

SPOT.ph's No. 1 tonkatsu deserves necessary recognition. The difference stems from Saboten's fresh panko bread crumbs, which don't absorb too much oil and keep the soft pork even more melt-in-your-mouth.

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G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 625-2000 or 2888

 

 

BEST COMBOS
Unusual flavor pairings that surprisingly work

 

 

Foie Gras on Mango Toast (P695) from Vask Gallery

Great things come in small packages: a ball of foie gras mousse sits steadily on a tube of mango. The fruit's tropical sweetness wraps around the rich, livery flavor of foie gras.

5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0920-974-4742; 0917-806-5292; 217-6563

 

 

Morelli’s Gorgonzola and Honey Ice Cream

It's not going to be everyone's default flavor, but this ice cream shows the transition of a childhood favorite to adulthood. The Gorgonzola will hit your palate square only to be comforted by the sneaky hints of rich, sweet honey.

Branches in Power Plant Mall and Shangri-La East Wing

 

 

Matcha Lychee Almond Cake (P210) at Saboten

The creamy green and white log doesn’t seem like much, but put it beside the heaviness of the tonkatsu. The airy, delicately sweet dessert is the only way to cap off a meal at Saboten.

G/F Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 625-2000 or 2888

 

 

Mango Papa (P320/pint) from Fog City Creamery

Don Papa Rum is becoming a favorite flavor component and the ingenious concoction by Fog City makes it even more irresistible. The local rum is paired with Homemade Treasures mango bars to create this over-the-top sensation.

Fog City Creamery can be contacted at 0917-8833344. Pick up points are in Valle Verde 5 and Focaccia Restaurant in A. Venue, Makati.

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SOCIAL AWARDS
Helping others is a great ingredient to any meal.

 

 

Beef Kebabs (P355) from Earth Kitchen

Three skewers of beef that are magically tender: as the bite-sized pieces melt in your mouth, you can almost feel wisps of smoke being released in your palate. The plate comes with a mildly flavored rice pilaf that further highlights the beef’s intense flavors. A skewer of tomatoes and onions breaks the monotony of beef, but they’ll most likely be ignored.

White Plains, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City; Tel. No. 0917-584-3278, 961-0572, 577-9138

 

 

Tres Leches with Strawberries Cake Cup (P165) by Cupcakes by Sonja

It seems that cupcake queen Sonja Ocampo has a lot more arsenal in her bag than cupcakes. This year, she introduced three kinds of cake cups and this particular flavor-yellow cake slices soaked in three kinds of milk, then layered with whipped cream and fresh strawberries-is the instant hit. The best part? Part of the proceeds from Sonja's line of cake cups will be donated to the Move Foundation.

Branches at Serendra, Glorietta 2, New Promenade, and Shangri-La East Wing

 

 

HEAVYWEIGHTS
These meals will leave you clutching your stomach after.

 

 

Rib-Eye (P670/regular) at the Farm Organics

At the Farm, it's called the grand daddy of steaks, and rightfully so. It has the purest beef flavor and, being organic, the cleanest too. It comes with a side of greens, but what it really needs is time to enjoy every ounce of goodness.

G/F One Legacy Place, Don Jesus Boulevard, Alabang Hills, Muntinlupa City; Tel. No. 0927-741-2660, 0947-939-6598

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Chuck Steak (P799/500 grams) from Solace Wine and Dine

It's not the most popular cut, but when cooked right, you'll find that it carries the same promises as a rib-eye. Fortunately, the chefs at Solace know exactly how to treat it to make it tender and juicy. This dish, sided with your two choices from creamy spinach, balsamic salad, homemade fat fries, sautéed vegetables, and garlic rice, is so celebrated that Solace holds Great Steak Thursdays just for it.

One Greenbelt Hotel, 914 Pasay Road, Makati City; Tel. No. 0917-535-7529

 

 

Braised Oxtail with Polenta (P525) from Green Pastures

The fall-off-the-bone meat gives you big blasts of deep flavor. The creamy polenta, on the other hand, is light with creamy custard that pairs well against the robust beef.

4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 654-3219

 

 

Roast Beef (P1,450 to P1,995/buffet) at Spectrum

Unfortunately, this doesn't come ala carte. The beef belly, roasted whole and rubbed with rosemary and other spices, is a shiny, perfectly proportioned edifice of beautiful marbling and tender beef. The belly is cooked to a rare, but ask the server to fire it up on the grill one more time to toast those edges of fat and really make them heavenly.

Fairmont Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, Makati City; Tel. 555-9745

 

 

Bone Marrow (P295) at Chops Chicago Steakhouse

The deep bone marrow is roasted, with the savory sweet sauce already lathered generously over the length of bone. That slippery, butter-like richness is perfect on a piece of toasted crostini. A little sprinkle of lava salt gives it an earthy edge that cuts through the heaviness of something this sinful.

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Greenbelt 5, Makati City

 

 

The Escobar (P998) at Pablo's Steak and Pub

You might be pleased to know that this US Angus Rib-eye has no moustache or anything else associated with the infamous Cuban. The inch-thick, 10-inch-long steak is cooked to a default medium rare, with just enough salt and pepper to coax out the natural flavors of beef. The result is explosions of peppery succulence with every bite.

2/F Forum South Global, 7th Avenue corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0916-618-7045

 

 

SUPER STARTERS
Breakfasts that will really put a great start to your day

 

Photo by Gerry San Miguel of Dude For Food

 

Caramelized Spam Breakfast Special (P245) from Pi Breakfast and Pies

It's a typical breakfast made better. Thick cubes of Spam are rolled in sugar then fried, before being topped with homemade pesto and paired with a soft-boiled egg.

39 Malingap Street, Teachers Village, Quezon City

 

 

CARB-RIFFIC
Carbs that are well-worth the extra mile on the treadmill

 

 

Sweet Potato Tortellini (P350) from Stockton Place

The tender tortellini with a brown butter thyme sauce is good on its own, but when eaten with the hazelnut crumble and the prosciutto crisp, it transforms into a powerhouse of flavors that will have you hooked.

227 Salcedo Street, Makati City; Tel. No. 844-9530, 0917-856-1419

 

 

Cacio e Pepe (P355) from Green Pastures

This dish is fresh linguini pasta cooked al dente with Pecorino and Parmigiano cheeses and freshly cracked black pepper. This Roman specialty can knock your socks off when cooked right-like the way Green Pastures does it.

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4/F Shangri-La Plaza East Wing, Mandaluyong City; Tel. No. 654-3219

 

 

Saffron Sausage and Chicken Paella (P2,800) from Pio’s Kitchen

The lovely chef behind paella flavors like Aligue and Bagnet has come up with another invention, one that makes use of The Butchery’s Saffron Sausages. The vegetables are on the mild side, but generous chunks of chicken and subtly spicy sausages more than make up for it.

For orders, contact 501-2391 or e-mail chefchin@piospaella.com.

 

 

AFTERNOON DELIGHTS
Light to heavy meals that can double-duty as a snack.

 

 

Burger Patty Melt on Rye  (P400) from Grace Park

It's like a grilled cheese sandwich and a hamburger in one. Melted cheese, caramelized onions, and a lean patty are sandwiched between buttered toasts, and served with crispy shoestring potatoes and a side salad.

G/F One Rockwell Building, Rockwell Drive, Makati City; Tel. No. 0917-513-8945

 

 

The Franch Burger (P295) from 8Cuts

Any good burger starts with the patty. In The Franch, two brioche buns come with caramelized onions, sweet pickles, Gruyere cheese, and potato chips. The star of the sandwich? A patty of flank steak, ox tail, and rib-eye-a combination of beef cuts that give it a yummy umami flavor.

2/F UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City; Tel. No. 0917-818-2139

 

 

Croque Madame (P475) from Shine Bakery and Café

This everyday ham, cheese, and egg sandwich is made more luxe with sweetness from candied orange and a pool of maple syrup. The peppery taste of arugula and tartness from the green apple and radish slivers make the profile even more elaborate.

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3/F SM Aura Premiere; Tel. No. 553-6566

 

 

Shibuya Benedict (P255) from Cafe Shibuya

The Japanese take on the Eggs Benedict is Shiitake mushrooms, hollandaise, ham, tomato, poached egg, and parsley piled on top of each other. Cafe Shibuya’s signature three-inch toasts appear to overwhelm the toppings, but the soft and airy bread is just the perfect canvas for the smorgasbord of flavor and texture.

UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

 

 

The LES Addiction (P400) from LES Bagels

Filipinos normally prefer rice over bread, but maybe because they haven't encountered this sandwich before. The Addiction is a pumpernickel bagel stuffed with a large salmon fillet, fresh tomato and onion slices, capers, and scallion cream cheese. Who needs rice, really?

Tuscany Residences, Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Hill; Tel. No. 804-0423, 0915-258-5685

 

 

The Original Gold AU 79 (P380/mini) from Recess

Chef Chris Locher's panizza stands out largely because of the offerings under his The Original menu, which uses rye in the dough and topped with secret cheese sauce. The Gold, in particular, has barbecued chicken, Swiss brown mushrooms, corn kernels, red onions, and jalapeño pepper, served with a bowl of greens.

50 Jupiter Street, Makati City; Tel. No. 899-1818

 


OVER-THE-TOP

 

 

Cochinillo (P4,900/part of a degustation menu) at Vask Gallery

This is a dish that's as good as it looks. The pork has been infused with vanilla and cooked sous vide for 16 hours, tenderizing meat that pulls apart without effort. The pumpkin gnocchi lends a smooth texture and marries the sweet and salty pairing perfectly.

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5/F Clipp Center, 11th Avenue corner 39th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0920-974-4742; 0917-806-5292; 217-6563

 

 

Thanh Long Lechon (P8,000) at Pepita's Kitchen *

Pepita's Kitchen has an entire menu of stuffed lechon, but this is one that no one will be able to say no to: roasted pig filled with rice and noodles. We surrender.

For orders or reservations, contact 425-4605 or 0917-866-0662.

 

 

Porketta (P1,100/kilo) from Porketta Man *

This is one of the best things to ever come out of a brick oven. It's succulent and doesn't scrimp on flavors. All it requires is loads of rice or bread to take those flavors over the edge.

For orders, call 632-1586 or 0917-810-2218.

 

 

Oven-baked local pork belly and bone marrow (P480) from The Black Pig

Roast por is always a crowdpleaser, but match it with smooth mashed potato, tender baby carrots, a savory thyme-garlic jus, and a roasted piece of pork skin, and it just becomes unadulterated bliss.

2/F Commercenter Alabang, East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa City; Tel. No. 808-1406

 

 

Call The Nurse (P280) at Burgers and Brewskies

You'd have to put a doctor on speed dial when dining at Burgers and Brewskies. They break the limits of what ought to be between buns by adding impossibly indulgent things like, in Call The Nurse's case, a block of macaroni and cheese. It makes sense, though, when you think about it. It gives the cheese element a new level of indulgence.

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Forbes Town Center, Burgos Circle, Bonifacio Global City

 

 

Mighty Ton (P850) at Casa Verde

This burger doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. The patty is simply seasoned and topped with cheese and tomato over a sesame seed bun. Not a lot of gimmickry until you step back and notice its size. Casa Verde's  burger is 12 inches in diameter. Just enough to feed an entire barkada.

2/F UP Town Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City

 

 

For Chocolate Lovers (P275) from Rambla

This chocolate dessert reigns over all other chocolate desserts. Seven different forms of chocolate are displayed in one dish: a fudge brownie, a ginger chocolate cookie, a chocolate cardamom panna cotta, chocolate truffle with truffle essence, white chocolate ice cream, and white chocolate foam with orange zest-everything wading on a pool of luscious chocolate.

G/F Joya Building, Joya Drive, Rockwell, Makati City; Tel. No. 0926-690-9774, 823-6468.


INNER BEAUTY AWARDS
Dishes that don't always look the most mouthwatering, but push you to take that first bite and become hooked

 

 

Poached eggs with mushroom puree (P350) from The Black Pig

It looks messy, but don't let that distract you from the flavor. Organic eggs burst into a dark gold yolk that adds to the richness of the mushroom puree. It’s nothing complicated, just a dish that brings out the natural flavors of the ingredients.

2/F Commercenter Alabang, East Asia Drive corner Commerce Avenue, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa City; Tel. No. 808-1406

 

 

Orecchiette (P350) at Grace Park

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Pasta shaped like mouse ears isn't going to win any beauty pageants, but this is a lesson in inner, er, beauty. The messy presentation is comfort food accentuated by olive oil, Luganega sausage, Parmesan, beans, and greens,

G/F One Rockwell Building, Rockwell Drive, Makati City; Tel. No. 0917-513-8945

 

 

Balut Surprise (P300) from 100 Revolving Restaurant

It's a bowl of consommé boldly flavored with veggies and balut (an actual balut!) and encased in a parsley-specked pastry shell. Crack it open and out comes a savory scent that will make you weak in the knees.

33/F MDC 100 Building, C5 corner Eastwood Drive, Quezon City; Tel. No. 962-1016

 


Caramelized Onion and Mozzarella Sausage from The Butchery

The Butchery injects a dose of exciting, organic ingredients in its all-natural casings. There's mint, tarragon, buffalo, celery, red wine, and rosemary. From its impressive lineup of handcrafted sausages, the Caramelized Onion and Mozzarella is the flavor that makes the biggest impression.

Contact The Butchery at 0917-795-5005 or e-mail thebutcherysausage@gmail.com.

 

 

TRENDIEST

 


Black Pig Tonkatsu Ramen (P530) at Tampopo

This Singaporean franchise merges the year's two biggest food trends-katsu and ramen-under one roof. Despite the duality of their sets, Tampopo is generous with both ramen and katsu. The former is spicy (customers can customize the heat level) with the thin al dente Kyushu noodles simmering in tonkotsu broth. The katsu, meanwhile, is coated in fresh and crisp panko that doesn't absorb oil and keeps the Berkshire pork nicely tender.

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New Promenade, Greenhills Shopping Complex, San Juan

 

 

Tonkatsu (P575) at Tonkatsu by Terazawa

Compared to the other katsu companies, Tonkatsu by Terazawa doesn’t have as long a history or as big a cult following. But their tonkatsu is a sleeper hit. The Berkshire pork is aged under a tower for three days, absorbing the flavors and allowing the natural juices to seep through. The nama panko is crisp but soft, melting away for that salty tenderloin that will catch you off guard with its savory tenderness.

Greenbelt 2, Makati City

 

 

Cronuts, Croissant Donuts, Croughnuts, and other variations

Dominique Ansel's spiraling sensation must be on everybody's 2013 bucket list. The flaky croissant-donut mutation has been copied around the world and Manila is no exception, with the list of establishments trying to emulate this trademarked enterprise still growing. Our recommendations? Dolcelatte (most number of flavors), Wildflour (first in Manila), La Girolle (use of French techniques), Chatime (affordable).

Read our Cronut reports here and here and here and here.

 

 

Speculoos Cookie Butter Mochi (P70) from Mochiko

They say save the best for last, and this is particularly true for the cookie butter mochi only recently released by Mochiko. Though they're probably not the last establishment to utilize the gingery promises of speculoos cookies, Mochiko came late into the game. The whole cookie on the bottom of the little frozen ball is the perfect platform for this deliciously spiced ice cream.

Branches around Manila

 

Photo by Richard Co of Tales From The Tummy

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Salted Caramel Cheesecake (P150) from URBN Bar and Kitchen

Of the many restaurants that attempted this flavor, URBN's Bar and Kitchen is a unanimous crowd favorite. There's nothing you can't love about that rich, honeyed sweetness interspersed with good salt.

3/F Fort Pointe II Building, 28th Street, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0917-564-9333

 

 

Salted Macaron Ice Cream (P70) from Chez Karinecroq

Mini salted caramel macarons make up a sandwich for salted caramel ice cream. It targets sweet cravings and also works an instant cooler during hot days. We just wish there was more of it.

Serendra, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 804-1889, 0917-323-2845

 

 

DESSERT DARLINGS

 

 

Sticky Custard Pie (P130) from Marmalade Kitchen

Nestled in a graham cracker crust is a thick custard reminiscent of brazo de mercedes filling. Toasted meringue tops a dessert that's beautiful inside and out.

2/F Forum South Global, 7th Avenue corner Federacion Drive, Bonifacio Global City; Tel. No. 0916-618-7045

 

 

Milk Cheesecake (P195) by Bite Contemporary Cuisine

It's the lightest of light cheesecakes, making it more tempting to indulge in more than just a slice. The taste is clean and the crust doesn't become too dry that it cracks and creates a mess upon slicing.

7427-B Glory Building, Yakal Street, San Antonio Village, Makati City; Tel. No. 478-2659

 


Chocolate Bread Pudding (P650/part of a buffet) from Fairmont Lounge

There is one dish that stands out from the tables of chocolatey debauchery courtesy of Chef Miko Aspiras. The bread pudding is moist and fluffy, topped with warm bittersweet chocolate sauce; fresh strawberries add a contrast that heightens the decadence.

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Fairmont Makati, 1 Raffles Drive, Makati Avenue, Makati City; Tel. No. 555-9840

 


Hidden Treasure Caramel Avalanche Bar (P120) from Sebastian's Ice Cream

Sebastian's Hidden Treasures line is to be blamed for all the sinful goodness-and calories-frozen treat lovers have enjoyed this year. The Caramel Avalanche, in particular, has people humming after every cool bite. It's a vanilla ice cream bar with a layer of salted butter caramel, then hand-dipped in a crisp dark chocolate shell.

Contact 0927-290-1633, 0927-453-7426, 0915-489-5753; branches at Regis Center, Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City; The Podium; SM Mall of Asia

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